And Justice for All comes to Region A locked US Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. For a thirty-plus year old movie, and particularly one of this nature and style, there’s no way you could ever expect this to come out as a demo-quality release, either visually or aurally, but, that said, it still probably looks considerably better than it ever has done before. Detail is generally good, with no signs of edge enhancement, DNR or other digital interference, the clarity definitely deserving of a Blu-ray moniker. The colour scheme is indicative of the era, with a lot of dated browns and muted tones, but contrast is maintained at an acceptable level and skin tones come across as never less than realistic. There’s a decent layer of filmic grain, but this is, again, utterly in line with the production, and, moreover, I’m glad that they haven’t tried to remove it. Black levels are reasonably strong and this is a perfectly decent video rendition for this particular release.
On the aural side of things we get a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is distinctly – and expectedly – front-heavy. A dialogue-driven drama, the soundtrack maintains the same trend, presenting the words clearly and coherently throughout, almost entirely emanating from the frontal array. Effects are fairly limited – mundane traffic noises, the whirr of the helicopter blades and buzz of its lawnmower-like engine, perhaps the occasional gunshot – and they only afford the speakers a scant few moments of separation, and even less bass. The score is one of the worst aspects of the movie, something which dates is beyond all else, and which also jars with the style of production, often totally ruining the mood. Still, it allows the surrounds a little more to do in what is a mostly front-driven offering.
All we get here is a single, two minute deleted scene and the original theatrical trailer. The deleted scene is well worth checking out, and probably should have been included in the final cut, with Pacino’s Kirkland having another meeting with the crafty Judge that he is forced to represent. There’s a great little back-and-forth conversation between the two, where Kirkland tries to explain to the by-the-letter-of-the-law Judge how insane it is to let an innocent man go to prison because of a technicality. Shame they didn’t include this and remove some of the farcical moments instead.
This late 70s attempt at dissecting the US legal system, highlighting its flaws and revealing the corruption at the highest levels, makes for decent enough courtroom drama viewing, driven by a impassioned performance by a young Al Pacino, and assisted by a reasonably solid central storyline. Unfortunately, even forgiving its painfully dated score, the movie is fatally flawed itself by a rather strange infusion of farcical humour. Amidst the rapes, suicides and murders, you have Judges shooting firearms in court, lawyers throwing plates at anybody who comes near them, and a totally out-of-place helicopter stunt (a foolish one at that) which possibly provides audiences with the worst piece of Al Pacino acting (screaming like a child) that they have ever seen. Strange that you get all this in a movie that received Oscar Nominations for Best Screenplay and for Al Pacino’s admittedly otherwise excellent central performance. It’s a shame because the film would have been so much more poignant had they stripped it of these painfully farcical moments and played it deadly serious – which, for the most part, it is.
On Region A locked US Blu-ray we get decent video and audio, considering the material, but a very thin selection of extras. Fans will definitely want to add this to their collection, but those, like me, who missed this early era Pacino production should be warned of exactly what to expect. There’s a somewhat classic courtroom drama somewhere buried in this mess, but you have to look hard, and forgive a fair amount of silliness, in order to find it.
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